Running in Calculus

About a year ago, I started working out with a friend. I was on my way to being in the best shape of my life. While most of the country was buried in snow, our little mountain town barely saw a flake. As an avid skier, that was disappointing but it did give us a nice warm winter. Something that proved quite useful to my latest crazy idea. Running. Before last winter, I only ran if I was being chased. Even then, I’d be the person who fell down and got attacked or eaten by the wild animal.

Not quite a year later, I’m training for a half-marathon. I’d been regularly running 3-4 miles when I had an opportunity to run a half-marathon and have my entry fee paid. Attached to the email were training plans for a 10K and half-marathon. I decided to go for it. I’m halfway there. I ran 11 miles on Sunday and will run in my first race, a local 10K this Saturday. I did a 3-mile mud run a few weeks ago but it was more about friends and the physical challenge. This is my first real trial.

Not only do I want to  finish but I want to run faster. Now “faster” isn’t exactly record-breaking. I ran 11 miles at 5.2 MPH (about 11:30 minutes/mile) and I’m hoping to do the 10K at about 11 minutes/mile. We’re talking tortoise not hare.

One of the things I do to run faster is looking straight ahead and racing for it. It reminds me of the verse Hebrews 12:1-3 (this is 1b-2a, ESV) “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus.” I’ve been doing speed drills and tempo runs too. Speed work is a combination of running hard for 400 meters then walking repeated so many times. Tempo runs are running faster for a longer period of time. Those runs I do in our neighborhood. Typical of most developments, our roads aren’t straight. That’s when I realized I broke the curves into short, straight lines. The dx if you think in terms of calculus. Because that’s exactly what calculus is, breaking a curve into really short straight lines.

What can I say? I’m an engineer who turns running into a math problem then writes about it. I also learned something about myself and why I do what I do. I write because I’m good at it (using my talents) and run because I’m not. Nothing humbles me like being 5.5 miles from home and having to get back on my own power. 

Have you ever done anything and stayed with it even though you’re not very good? Why do you do it?

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9 thoughts on “Running in Calculus

  1. I was asked to help out with children’s church last year. While I love my daughter, trying to work with a group of kids is a sure way to stress me out. But I stuck with it for the year. I had made a commitment and didn’t want to leave them hanging. Other things I stick with because I know I am capable, even if it doesn’t come easily. Computer/tech repairs, for example. Often, it’s the challenge that makes the accomplishment so rewarding. 🙂

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    • Working with little kids stresses me out too!

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      • Right? I can handle the chaos of birthday parties and little nieces/nephews running around on visits. But try to get them all seated to respectfully discuss a Bible story? There’s always 2 or 3 boys pushing the boundaries to see how much they can get away with, a few who are in their own world, the clingy girl (usually my daughter) glomped to my side, etc. When they asked me again this year, I mustered up the courage to tell them it’s not my joy and I’m much happier in the international students ministry.

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        • Oh – and my respect for those called to children’s ministries knows no bounds. 😉

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        • The older the kids get, the more comfortable I am. I used to beat myself up for not being good with little kids until a kind soul pointed out to me that it was a gift. Just because I was a mom, didn’t mean I had to be good with kids. That was one Truth that certainly set me free. Knowing that others are just like me, makes me feel better as well. (Still have some mom guilt, I think).

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          • Lisa. I am the same way. I like older kids and teens. I’m not great with babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. Think about all of the moms who love little ones but cringe around tweens & teens. Each mom has her favorite age.

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  2. Great post. Funny, I thought you were always a runner.

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  3. Nope. I hated running. I started exercising to stay healthy. And I like pie.
    Children’s ministry is definitely a calling.
    Sparks, I’m glad you spoke up to serve where your heart is!

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  4. Loved this post, Gretchen.
    Like Sparks, I believe in sticking to your commitment even when you find out you don’t like it. We made our oldest son keep his commitment to Boy Scouts each year. He’d sign up, hate it by January, and be told he had to stay through summer camp. Then he didn’t have to sign up again. By the time he was done with camp, he was ready to sign for another year, and the cycle continued. He’s an Eagle Scout!
    VBS is my nemesis. I did it for several years. Hated it, even though I liked the age group. I think the problem was that I’m a teacher, and VBS is not school. You have to let certain behaviors go. (Let it go, let it go), and I can’t. I stopped feeling guilty about not signing up for it anymore. I serve in other ways instead.

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